Chapter 7 : Careers
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If Jovian had been his mother’s blue-eyed boy before Romilda made her announcement, he was even more so afterwards. Alyssa was willing to ignore his defence of his sister, as he was, after all, about to qualify as a Healer, which made up for quite a lot in his mother’s eyes.
The few letters which Alyssa condescended to send to her daughter were filled with news about how much progress Jovian was making in his studies, how she and Cornelius were so looking forward to his graduation and what a pity it was that Romilda would not see fit to follow in her brother’s footsteps.
Headstrong and quick-tempered as ever, Romilda soon stopped replying to her mother’s epistles. She made up for this by writing more regularly than ever before to her father and brother.
Honestly Dad, one of her letters began.
Mother is driving me absolutely crazy. I got a letter from her last week, absolutely filled with news about Jovan’s studies and his plans for employment. Not that I’m not interested in Jovian’s plans or anything, but I do think he is quite capable of telling me about them himself. And a whole letter about the options he has is a bit much, I think.
Why can’t she just accept that I am not Jovian and that I have absolutely no interest in becoming a Healer or an Auror or a Ministry of Magic employee? No offence or anything!
Why couldn’t Alyssa accept that Romilda was nothing like her parents or her older brother? It was a question that Cornelius had asked himself repeatedly and he had come up with no satisfactory answer. He did believe that his wife genuinely cared about him and their children, so why she judged them so much on their success he didn’t know. He supposed that she really did want the best for them. Sometimes, though, it was just too much pressure.
It was bad enough for him, and possibly for Jovian. And they had achieved the success that Alyssa demanded. Cornelius himself had secured the highest position possible in the wizarding society of Great Britain, and yet, there were times when he still felt the pressure of his wife’s ambitions. Times when he almost felt as though he wasn’t the phenomenon she believed him to be. It was partially this feeling, which he barely acknowledged even to himself, that drove him to aim more and more for power and position.
If he felt that pressure, when he himself was almost as anxious to achieve success as his wife was for him to achieve it, how much more difficult must it be for Romilda, who had no interest in the sort of success valued by her mother.
These were not thoughts that Cornelius articulated clearly. He lacked the insight and self-knowledge to really understand his own or his daughter’s motivations. Nonetheless, these unconscious thoughts lurked at the bottom of his mind and made him more sympathetic to his daughter’s situation than he might otherwise have been.
He and Alyssa barely discussed their daughter’s ambitions. Occasionally, Alyssa began to criticise Romilda and to compare her unfavourably to Jovian, but Cornelius brought the conversation to a close as quickly as he possibly could. He had no wish to take sides in the arguments between his wife and daughter.
In his letters to Romilda, however, he was able to offer a vague kind of support. He never openly encouraged her choice of career, but he congratulated her when, in March, she wrote to tell him that she had been granted an interview with the Magical Heritage Society.
It was Jovian, however, who was his sister’s staunchest supporter. In his view, Romilda was quite right to follow the career that interested her and he wrote to her, advising her to take no notice of their mother’s views.
Don’t mind her, he wrote regularly. She just wants us to do what she believes is best for her. But really, you have to do what you think is best for you, not what Mum thinks. She’ll get over it. After all, she has enough to boast about with me and dad, particularly dad being Minister of Magic. That’s enough success for any one family.
And anyway, I know you will be a successful Translator. The job suits you down to the ground and when you achieve success at it, Mum will be more than pleased you did it. Until then, just ignore her.
It wasn’t advice Romilda really needed. Cornelius and Alyssa’s younger child had never paid any attention to anything that didn’t suit her. In that sense, she was more like her mother than either would have admitted.
Both Cornelius and Jovian sent Romilda letters of encouragement when the day of the interview loomed. The Magical Heritage Society were coming to Hogwarts along with some other magical employers to interview those students which had expressed an interest in careers in their organisations.
Two weeks later, Cornelius received a letter from Romilda, informing him excitedly that the Magical Heritage Society had been quite satisfied with her and had informed her that if her results were satisfactory (a minimum of an E in Ancient Runes and As in her other subjects), they would offer her a job as Translator.
I don’t know how I’ll ever wait for my results, her letter concluded. Don’t tell Mum, but I am really worried that I won’t do well enough. As should be ok. I should manage that. But an E is another matter. Wish me luck.
Naturally, Cornelius did wish his daughter luck. And his son, who was studying for his final exams. Between them both and the pressures of work in the Ministry, he was pretty much in a constant state of anxiety. It was work which gave him the most worry, but he did hope that both of his children would get the results they needed.
Jovian’s results arrived before his sister’s and were just as good as everyone had expected them to be. He was now qualified as a Healer and in July, he was to have his graduation.
By that time, Romilda had finished her N.E.W.Ts and was in the process of waiting for her results. Like her parents, she was pleased for her brother, but at the same time, his success made her even more nervous that she might not be equally successful. Nonetheless, she managed to keep these views to herself and congratulated her brother warmly.
Alyssa was in her element at her son’s graduation. He had received the second highest results in his year, and although she was naturally disappointed that he hadn’t received the highest, second best was still something to boast about, and she lost no time in letting her daughter know just how pleased she was with Jovian.
Romilda totally ignored her mother’s digs. In one way, she would have liked to have a full blown row about it, but she had no intention of taking from her brother’s achievements, so she paid as little attention as possible to her mother and concentrated on worrying about her own results.
Despite Alyssa’s attitude, Romilda enjoyed her brother’s graduation as much as her parents did. Well, she enjoyed it as much as Cornelius did. It is doubtful if anybody could have enjoyed it as much as Alyssa, as she was phenomenally proud of her son, and went around commenting on his results to the other parents. If it was at all possibly to refer to “my husband, the Minister of Magic” in the same conversation, she mentioned that as well, and could only have been happier if her daughter had been offered some equally prestigious occupation.
Two days after the graduation, Jovian’s photo appeared in the Daily Prophet, above an article entitled “Minister’s son receives top grades.” It was hard to know who Alyssa was more pleased with-her son for receiving the top grades or her husband for making the family newsworthy in the first place.
By comparison, Romilda’s results, when they finally arrived, hardly merited a mention in Alyssa’s view. She received two Es, including the necessary one in Ancient Runes and As in her other subjects.
“Good enough for the Magical Heritage Society anyway,” Cornelius commented non-committally.
Jovian was more enthusiastic.
“You got the grades you needed. That’s fantastic, Ro. This requires celebration, doesn’t it Dad?”
“I suppose so,” Cornelius agreed. “What do you suggest?”
“It should be Romilda’s decision really,” Jovian pointed out. “But if she agrees, I think we should all go out for a meal. Wherever she likes.”
Romilda agreed readily and that evening she, Cornelius and Jovian went out for a meal to celebrate her results. Alyssa refused point-blank to come.
“Two Es and a couple of As,” she muttered disgustedly. “That’s nothing worth celebrating. Your brother got all Os.”
“Romilda isn’t Jovian,” Cornelius pointed out quietly, but his wife completely ignored him.
Despite her mother’s hostility to the idea, Romilda couldn’t help being excited by the prospect of work as a Translator. There would be an initial training period of a couple of weeks, she explained and after that, she would be sent somewhere to start work. It was likely to be somewhere exotic. The Magical Heritage Society had already suggested that they were in need of Translator in African countries. Many witches and wizards were unwilling to travel so far away, particularly if they were married with families, and Africa had a particularly interesting magical heritage.
Two weeks after the arrival of her results, Romilda set off for the training period. For the three weeks she would spend training, she would be coming home every evening but after that she would off to wherever she was to work.
As she had predicted herself, it was Africa to which she was sent; Tunisia to be precise. She was really excited to be going somewhere so exotic; somewhere she had never seen before.
“Won’t you miss us at all?” Jovian asked.
“Not really,” she admitted. “After all, I’ll be home for Christmas. And I’ve been away from home at Hogwarts for the past seven years. Actually, it’ll probably be easier to get home from Tunisia than it was from Hogwarts, as I will be taking my apparition test soon and if I pass, I’ll be able to apparate and come home whenever I wish. Besides, I’ll probably be much too busy to miss anybody. You know what I am disappointed about though?”
“What?” Jovian asked.
“I’ve just realised Harry Potter should be starting at Hogwarts next month. It would be so cool to be there when he was. Isn’t it just my luck that I’ve left just before he starts. Still, he’ll only be a first year kid anyway. I guess I wouldn’t see much of him even if I were going back. He would be in my house though.”
“How do you know that?”
“Em, this is Harry Potter; the son of Lily and James Potter. Where else would he go? Honestly! You’re supposed to be the one who reads all the stuff about the history of the wizarding world. And you were old enough when Harry defeated You-Know-Who to understand what all the excitement was about! I was only about 8!”
“Ok, ok, Romilda. I just forgot. Still you’ll probably meet plenty of exciting people in Tunisia, even if you don’t get to meet Harry.”
Before she left, Romilda took and passed her apparition test.
“See, I’ll have no problem getting home for Christmas now,” she smiled before she left.
With Romilda in Tunisia, both of Cornelius’ children were now set up in careers, as Jovian had secured a position as Healer in St. Mungo’s. He still hadn’t finished studying though, as his present position was only as an ordinary Healer and he hoped to specialise eventually in Spell Damage, particularly in the mental problems which could be caused by particular spells, if incorrectly used. There was a particularly interesting case in St. Mungo’s of a husband and wife who had been tortured into insanity during the Reign of Terror.
Naturally, Alyssa was delighted that he had decided to continue studying. A specialist was something even better to boast about than an ordinary Healer. Both she and Cornelius listened interestedly to Jovian’s descriptions of his work when he arrived home each evening. Or at least Cornelius listened when he wasn’t too overburdened with work. He also replied regularly to Romilda’s letters describing her work in Tunisia. He had slightly more time to pay attention to his children now, as work was beginning to calm down. This was partly because he was becoming more used to the work he had to do and partly due to Dumbledore’s help.
Alyssa, on the other hand, paid little, if any, attention to Romilda’s news, preferring to focus on her son’s. Even when Romilda returned home for Christmas, Alyssa chose to ignore her daughter’s references to her work as much as possible.
Therefore, Romilda corresponded with her father more than ever before, and despite how busy he continued to be at work, Cornelius looked forward to her descriptions of Tunisia and the work she was doing there.
It was easy enough to see why the work appealed to her. Even though the actual work of translating could be pretty boring, the texts of the Ancient African spells were often quite fascinating, and working in such an exotic environment helped to make it interesting.
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